April 14, 2012

At-risk kids and THE TRAZ - Guest Post from Eileen Schuh

Eileen Schuh is here today to talk about at-risk kids and how her book, The Traz, addresses the subject. This is important information for any parent or caregiver to know about, so please share this post with your friends and family.

Eileen's publisher is offering The Traz for free, please be sure to read to the end to learn more about that and the Kindle giveaway you can be a part of. Now, let's hear from Eileen.

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I’d always imagined THE TRAZ would be seen as an exciting story—drugs, gangs, cops, kids, murder...  It wasn’t until I was preparing THE TRAZ for publication that I realized the novel could also be a valuable teaching tool.
 
Around the time I was doing my final edits, the RCMP and several social service agencies hit the headlines with pleas for community help in combating the trend toward criminal gangs recruiting youngsters, some as young as 9 or 10.

This amazed me—I’d fought with more than one editor about the tender age of my young heroine.  (Katrina is 12 at the start of the story.) Many critics thought it was unrealistic that someone so young could be leading such a dangerous life. Although I secretly agreed, for the sake of the story she had to be that age.

I couldn’t believe that I’d spent so many hours powering up my writing to make her age seem believable…only to hear news clips of cops saying kids as young as 9 were getting involved in criminal gangs.  Wow… How devastating to the child and to society to have kids that age sacrificing their future for…

For what?  For money? Hmmm, maybe. Katrina’s boyfriend gets into drugs to help his alcoholic mother buy booze and pay the rent. However, Katrina is wealthy. Why is she plying the streets after midnight?

For excitement? Yeah, partly. Many teens have a strong need for that adrenaline rush. However, this need for a thrill can be sated by participating in things such as sports. I kept my kids busy with soccer, football…fishing, hunting… water skiing...tubing wildly behind a speed boat.  Parents and communities must ensure that there are exciting things for their youngsters to do.

What else was behind Katrina’s decision to join a gang? She wanted to belong… that’s a very strong need for youngsters. Those who don’t fit into the social cliques at school are often the ones befriended by adults or older kids with nefarious motives.  I always made sure my kids belonged…we did lots of family events. We took the time to honour their individual accomplishments…their birthdays. They were on sports teams…in bands. I fostered their friendships with kids of like-minded parents.  They may not have belonged to what they called the “in-crowd” in school—but they belonged.  Churches, schools, clubs, scouts…all great things in which to involve students.

But what else put Katrina at risk? Depression? That’s a big part of what’s driving Karina.  She’s grieving—very unhappy. She rejects all offers of help.  Hormonal imbalances during adolescent often contribute to severe depression. It is easily treatable, though, with counseling and/or medication.  We must watch our youngsters for signs of depression and ensure they get the help they need.  Depression often causes kids to get involved in risky behavior.  Even if parents/guardians/teachers don’t recognize depression in youngsters, you can bet gangsters will spot it blocks away—and jump at the chance to prey on this vulnerability.
 
Was Katrina ignorant of the danger she was getting into? Sometimes kids just don’t know what gang life involves..and those recruiting them paint them a rosy picture of money and belonging and excitement and love…brotherhood.  However, Katrina’s dad was a cop and she knew full well about the dangers of gangs and drugs and street life.  But, like many her age, she was unable to foresee the results of her actions. She thought she was too clever to end up a victim. She thought she was invincible.  Studies show the part of the brain that gives us insight and foresight doesn’t physically develop until we are 25. Until that happens, youngsters depend on strong input from adults to guide them and keep them safe.

Yup…that was Katrina’s main risk factor—she had no positive adult influence in her life.  Her mother was absent in an alcoholic daze. Her grandparents are dead. Her father is caught up in his failing marriage…and then along comes Shrug.

An adult. Strong. He wants her. He needs her. He belongs to the most powerful gang on Alberta’s prairies.

“Wanna ride?” he asks, motioning to his Harley.

One bad decision that will haunt her forever…
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THE TRAZ includes a list of resources for both children at adults such as Help lines, websites for information on gangs, drugs, depression, and more.  The School Editions also include a Teaching Guide to steer children and adults in discussions on many of the issues touched on in THE TRAZ.
THE TRAZ eBook is free on Amazon Kindle for THREE DAYS ONLY-- April 14, 15 and 16. Don’t have a Kindle? No problem—you can easily download Amazon’s free KINDLE FOR PCs software to read eBooks on your computer.

THE TRAZ is available in paperback and ebook formats and in a special School Edition that includes a Teaching Guide. Click on the following links to purchase or sample THE TRAZ

Also available from other fine online bookstores.
If THE TRAZ is not on your local bookstore or library shelves, ask for it to be ordered in for you.

“LEAVE A COMMENT, WIN A KINDLE” Virtual Book Tour. Follow me through cyberspace as I promote THE TRAZ on blogs around the world. Each time you leave a comment beneath my guest blogs, I’ll enter your name in my draw for a Kindle.  For more details visit my  Facebook Fan Appreciation Page or follow me on Twitter.


Eileen Schuh is also the author of the adult Sci-Fi novella SCHRÖDINGER’S CAT

For more information on Schuh and her books visit her at:
Follow Katrina on Twitter: KatrinaBuckhold

4 comments:

  1. Thank you for hosting me, Kai. I'm not sure where my other comment went, but I wanted to thank you for the lovely introduction. I hope THE TRAZ is making a positive difference in some youngsters' lives.

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    1. It is a pleasure to have you visit. Best of luck with your book! What a great giveaway. I hope you have lots of people take advantage of it.

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  2. This book sounds like something that's really needed.

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  3. Thank you, Janet. I hope it makes a difference to at least a few lives, and entertains many.

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